But I can count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had with them about autism.
Some days that really hurts, but most of the time it just confuses the hell out of me. Sure they sympathise when things are tough, but don’t they want to understand why? Aren’t they interested in knowing how to build a relationship with my kids? Don’t they get how big a deal autism is?
It feels like there’s this huge part of my life that they’re not a part of. And that’s... weird.
The thing is, I know I’m not the only one. In fact I can consider myself quite lucky, many of you are struggling with families who actively discourage any mention of autism, discredit your parenting skills or in some cases even cut off contact altogether.
Why do the people closest to us find it so hard to talk about?
Let’s run through the list of possible reasons. Since this is your family, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and rule out the most obvious ones:
- They don’t know
- They don’t care
So here’s what we’re left with:
- They’re overwhelmed - autism is just too huge that they don’t know where to start
- They’re protective - they don’t want this to be happening to you
- They’re unaware - they don’t know that you need support
- They’re skeptics - they think autism is just a fad
- They’re in denial - they don’t want to believe your kids are autistic
- They’re unattached - they haven’t bonded with your kids
- They’re worried - what if their kids are autistic too?
- They’re offended - you never call and your kids are unsociable or rude
- They’re scared - your kids do weird stuff
- They can’t relate - nothing like this has ever happened to your family before
- They’re ignorant - they think autism is embarrassing or shameful
- They’re careful - they don’t know the right way to bring it up so avoid it altogether
The real reason could be a combination of any of these or something else altogether - hell, maybe they think you’ve been saying “my son is artistic” all this time, who knows. The point is, I think we tend to assume that they don’t care when we really don’t have a clue.
So it’s worth spending the time to try and understand why they’re having trouble understanding autism, because these are people who love and care for you. Given the chance, they can be a source of support instead of hurt (and if they don’t love and care for you, then why are you letting it upset you?)
- I’d really appreciate a phone call every now and then to see how I’m doing
- I’d love you to babysit so we can go out
- It’d be great if you would come to this training with me
- I wish we could talk about autism and not just ignore it
- It would mean a lot to me if you read this book
Be an example
Be willing to let it go
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